ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A fire ignited inside a vacant building at the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards Monday afternoon, spreading to the roof and two other adjacent buildings before it was contained, according to a spokesman for the Albuquerque Fire Department.
Officials believe the fire was intentionally set. The AFD Fire Investigation Division along with the Albuquerque Police Department are following several leads, said Tom Ruiz, a spokesman for the fire department.
“There was a pile of pallets, and a pile of trash and rubbish – that was where the point of origin was,” Ruiz said.
In a news conference held in front of the building on Second Street, south of Downtown, Mayor Tim Keller said highly flammable logs soaked in creosote left over from when the Rail Yards was operational caught fire and contributed to its spread. He said the buildings that were affected had been closed to the public and no one was injured in the blaze.
It also is not expected to affect the Rail Yard Market, which opens for the season on May 6.
“The Wheels Museum has not been harmed,” Keller said. “The building where the Rail Yards Market is held is also fine and not affected by this fire.”
Damage was limited to three buildings, Ruiz said.
Around 2:30 p.m., a caller reported the fire to 911 and said they saw someone leaving the scene, Ruiz said. When firefighters arrived four minutes later, he said, that person was gone.
He said 20 units worked to put out the fire and were monitoring the scene throughout Monday evening.
“Right now, they are working on exposed wooden members that are difficult to get to,” Ruiz said.
Keller said the damaged roof was old and had been slated for repairs. He said they are looking at various ways to improve the facility, which he called a “treasure to the city.”
“We’re looking at a number of capital options – and were before this – to add increased lighting, security and actually rehabilitate the buildings,” Keller said. “You don’t see anything changing as a result of this fire and the improvements that we want to make are going to help prevent this kind of thing in the future.”
Journal staff photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.